Residence hall librarians have a history of being undervalued by the University. Despite being graduate students, they were not offered membership into the Graduate Employees Organization until September, and they still do not receive equal compensation when compared to their GSI counterparts. In an effort to remedy this, the residence hall librarians and members of GEO are holding an informational picket today.
The University first officially recognized residence hall librarians, who are presently all graduate students in the School of Information, as part of the Graduate Employees Organization in October. As members of this group, the librarians should receive the same recognition and compensation as other graduate student employees. Librarians are currently paid with room and board in the residence halls in which they work and a $5,500 stipend, while other graduate student employees receive tuition and other benefits. Overall, this means that the librarians receive approximately 25 percent, or $18,000, less in compensation than the other members of GEO. To remedy this disparity, residence hall librarians began negotiations with the University in January for higher wages, retroactive wage and better training.
Residence hall librarians and GSIs have similar importance in the University community and should be recognized accordingly. GSIs are compensated well because they are considered to be the future of research and education, and therefore are vital to the future of higher education. In the same way, residence hall librarians undergo special training to be able to perform their numerous administrative responsibilities and to become the next generation of librarians, filling an essential role in the community.
Residence hall librarians should be equally compensated because they put the same time and effort into their work as their GSI counterparts. Just as some GSIs expend a great amount of time and energy in the effort to enlighten and inspire their pupils, the best residence hall librarians can enrich the college experience of undergraduates. Often, they can play more active roles in residence halls than resident advisers, organizing educational programs and supplying the residents with everything from a comfortable studying environment to a collection of their favorite books, periodicals and DVDs. Doing so requires a considerable amount of dedication to be able to appropriately respond to the changing needs of a diverse student body.
The University should take notice of the residence hall librarians on Monday and meet their requests. Administrators need to recognize the hard work the librarians perform as valuable members of the university community and compensate them accordingly.